DALLAS -- Dallas Fire-Rescue paramedics now have access to ballistic kits that can protect against rounds from high-powered rifles, like those used in the ambush on Dallas police officers last month.
The kits are part of a modification to the active-shooter policy for DFR that will ultimately include collaboration with DPD.
Lieutenant Jim McDade, an EMS paramedic, gave News 8 a first look at the equipment Wednesday. The kits arrived within the last week.
Each kit has a bullet-proof vest with an added one-inch thick armor plate over the chest and the back that will protect against high-powered rifle ammunition.
Traditional bullet-proof vests protect against ammunition from handguns.
“It's much more protection than anything we had before," McDade said.
Each kit comes with a tactical helmet currently used by SWAT teams in the Dallas Police Department.
It's gear McDade admits he never thought the department would need when he joined in 2005.
“We would arrive on scene and people would say, ‘You guys are the good guys.’ Now it’s been identified that we’re a target now,” McDade said.
He said he submitted a purchase order for the gear on July 7. Later that evening, Micah Johnson opened fire in downtown Dallas, killing five officers.
"We had our crews responding to shots fired call, going right into the hot zone," McDade said. "We knew we had to help get injured officers out of there."
The lieutenant says the equipment order was expedited after the ambush.
The new equipment will not be used on typical calls for firefighters. Instead, McDade says, paramedics would only put the gear on in a situation where a shooter has injured victims and police have already established it is safe to enter.
"There are injured people, we put the gear on, we go in, we get the people, we bring them out,” McDade said.